In case you don't own a Twitter account, it rained today up here in Foxboro, Massachusetts, where Chip Kelly stated that it was time to put on the galoshes and go play some football. Apologies to those of you who do own Twitter accounts, and are hearing about the rain for the 100th time today.
As a result of the wet stuff, play was mostly sloppy today. There were drops from receivers on both teams all over the field, a lot of slipping and falling, off-target throws, and horrible kicking exhibitions.
Especially horrible kicking exhibitions.
Obviously, rain makes kicking field goals more difficult, but holy hell was Carey Spear (AKA "Murderleg") bad today. Murderleg was brought in to compete with Alex Henery for the kicking job, but has really served as little more than a wasted roster spot. Initially, Murderleg was kicking at the Patriots' super-narrow goal posts, designed to make FGs tougher, and he was something like one of eight. (I didn't see every single one of them, but that was the consensus among the Eagles' media contingent). Then he came down to the other end of the field kicking at the normal uprights, and he missed four in a row. And we're not talking about 50 yarders here. They were mid-range FG attempts. I'm not sure if Henery kicked a ball today. Frankly, if he refused to kick another FG the rest of camp he'd still beat out Murderleg.
It is somewhat disappointing that the Eagles didn't give Henery better competition, and it's fair to wonder whether they really even had any intention of pushing him in the first place.
• Zach Ertz had a very good day, as the Patriots defense struggled sticking with him. Want to cover Ertz with a linebacker? Good luck. Want to go nickel when Ertz is in there? Prepare to get pounded with the run. The Eagles have three players who can be mismatch nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators: LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, and Ertz.
• Last season, Tom Brady picked on Curtis Marsh, who was repeatedly beaten by Patriots wide receivers. This year, Brady's target has been Roc Carmichael.
• Marsh, meanwhile, has had a really strong camp. He broke up several Brady passes, as he's done all throughout camp. Can the Eagles actually keep Marsh? Marsh has deserved to win a job, but the Eagles have five locks at CB in Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll, and Jaylen Watkins. Would they keep six corners? Tough call.
• Ever since the referees showed up at Eagles camp a couple weeks ago to begin enforcing the new emphasis on illegal contact by defensive backs and wide receivers, Bradley Fletcher has not been the same. Being physical with receivers down the field is a big part of Fletcher's game, and if the league does indeed get more strict, he could be in trouble.
• In regard to enforcing illegal contact and pass interference, the referees are over-doing it. Keelan Johnson looked like he had a perfectly clean pass breakup in which he didn't contact the receiver. However, because he didn't get his head around, the referee flagged him for pass interference. There's a decent bet this new emphasis is going to affect the outcome of some games around the league this season if the officials over-enforce ticky-tack contact penalties.
• James Casey had a nice one-handed catch down the seam today, and overall he has had a very good camp. If you're wondering why there hasn't been much written about Casey by the Philly media, it's because he has chosen not to speak with reporters. Casey is a good player, but he's buried on the depth chart. Obviously, Brent Celek and Zach Ertz are ahead of him at his positon, and with players like LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and Brad Smith also figuring to play roles in the Eagles' offense this year, it will be hard to find ways to get Casey on the field... just like last year.
• Arrelious Benn has not impressed. All along I've been convinced the Eagles would keep six wide receivers. There are five locks at this point -- Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and Brad Smith. Beyond them, you have a bunch of guys all with significant warts. Jeff Maehl can play special teams, and Chip Kelly likely has some kind of comfort level with him, but he has little upside and he hasn't stayed healthy. Ifeanyi Momah is a huge target who has been vastly improved, but despite an impressive (possibly mythical) clocked speed in the 40, he looks slow. Momah could also be a guy who hurts you on special teams. And then there's Benn, who simply has not looked good. With a much better roster than they had a year ago, maybe the Eagles only keep five wide receivers.
• Fletcher Cox was pancaked by a Pats offensive lineman. Steamrolled is probably the better way to put it. His play throughout camp has been concerning.
• My favorite moment of camp today was after Jeremy Maclin beat Darrelle Revis for a TD. After the play, Maclin looked up into the tent where the media was seated, as if to say, "You see that? Put that in your notes." To be fair, Revis has often looked like he's saving his "A game" for the real games.
Who won the day?
July 26: Mark Sanchez
July 27: Eagles running backs
July 28: Jordan Matthews
July 30: Malcolm Jenkins
July 31: Cary Williams
August 1: Nolan Carroll
August 3: Jordan Matthews
August 4: LeSean McCoy
August 5: Brandon Boykin
August 12: Everybody gets a gold star!
August 13: Alex Henery (or..."not Murderleg")
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski